Sunday, April 22, 2012

Adventure 16- Bike riding Seal Bay Park

This looks familiar
As I proudly reported in last weeks adventure, Natalie is now mobile. She rode her bike everyday after school this past week, and after only one week of being able to ride on her own, she is all over it. It is still a little strange to me to see her pedaling without any help from me, aside from words of encouragement and hints to make riding easier. We have even found a place for Dusty to sit on her handle bars.

Practice session
We spent some time between rain showers on Thursday night, riding around Cumberland, down to the park and into the Ulverston Station subdivision. She had a couple of small wipe outs on the gravel road down by the lagoon. She cried and was scared when she went down, but soon shook it off and she got back on the bike and continued on.(I highly recommend your child wear gloves while learning, getting scrapped palms is so painful. I remember what it is like, so Natalie always wears riding gloves) I taught her how to shift the Grip Shift and with that Natalie was able to ride up hills that were seeming to big to her. It is so fun to hear her and watch her cruising around, calling me to speed up and go faster. On Saturday we pedaled back and forth on Eagles Drive in Merville together for over an hour. She started calling me "Grandpa" and telling me to go faster. I was having a hard time keeping up without really going hard. So surprising to me how fast she advanced and her bravery has improved ten fold. Her only fear is of cars and that, in my mind, is a fine thing to be cautious of.
Lets do this
So today I proposed that her and I travel to another of the Comox Valleys gems, Seal Bay park. The park is full of trails that are mixed use. Some trails are for walkers, and others are to be shared by the former, as well as cyclists and equine alike. We arrived at one of the many trail heads, just at the top of Hardy road hill. This access is part of the fifteen kilometer Horse, Bike loop. We began by riding straight ahead down the trail on what would appear to be either an old road or railway grade. It was a flat, straight double track that follow the ridge that continues above the East side of the Comox Valley, right into East Courtenay and Comox. 
Pretty double track
Seal Bay was last logged in 1913 and the forest began regenerating in the '20s. The large second growth forest is really spectacular, with its under story of sword fern and salal. According to the pamphlet at the trail head, the park was first "discovered" in 1970 by members of the Comox-Strathcona Natural History Society. They pushed their way along the old railway grades, and through the thick underbrush to discover a wild place that would make a perfect nature park. The park protects 1610 kilometers of biodiversity and nearly one kilometer of beach frontage. The largest section of the park is the upland area, on the west side of  Bates road. This is the area that contains the most variety of trails, and the only area with trails for cyclists and horse riders. The water side is for hikers and even has a wheelchair accessible route. This is a wonderful place that I have not had the pleasure to discover with any regularity and I hope we can do more of it.

Look at that grin
Natalie and I had a great time playing on the double track. We were out and back in a little over an hour. This section is a wonderful place for a child to practice in a narrow place, before moving on to more technical terrain. The path is void of roots and fallen logs or branches. The low slope make for a easy pedaling and control. We did leave this road to take a single track to give it a go, but we found out that it was too advanced for her and she had a wipe out. The route descended a bit and it was twisty, and she got out of control, not using enough brake. Then she locked up her back tire and lost traction. Boom, into the thules. No problem, after a few tears, back in the saddle and off she went. The trip ended with big smiles and high fives. That made the adventure perfect and she was already asking for more. She must be related to me!

I would recommend if one hasn't visited Seal Bay park, do wait. Not that is is going anywhere, but is such a magical place to get lost in, you will want to spend many hours away with you family. Find Adventure!

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